A minor Republican primary battle in metro Detroit, Michigan, has exploded into the national consciousness after a white candidate called her Asian challenger a “ching-chong” and belittled her supporters as immigrants who didn’t belong in this country, raising serious questions about the re-emergence of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and the dark underbelly of ethnic animosity in the era of Trump.
Wait, wait, did I say Republican? Sorry about that one; what I actually meant to say was Democrat.
Oh, and I said “white candidate” too, didn’t I? She was actually black. Can’t believe I spaced on that one, as well.
And when I said that it “exploded into the national consciousness” and is “raising serious questions about the re-emergence of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment and the dark underbelly of ethnic animosity in the era of Trump,” what I actually meant to say was “literally nothing happened and nobody outside of Michigan even gave the slightest of craps about it.” It’s just a minor Freudian slip, after all. Could have happened to anyone.
Yes, even though Michigan state Rep. Bettie Cook Scott is apparently one of the most openly racist elected officials since the days when Robert Byrd would ask the dry cleaners to use extra starch on his hood because the point seemed to droop if he got too close to the burning cross, the only non-local coverage this awful human being has gotten in the past few days consists of minor write-ups in The Washington Times and other papers of that ilk.
According to the Detroit Metro Times, Cook called opponent Rep. Stephanie Chang a “‘ching-chang’ and “the ching-chong” to multiple voters outside polling precincts during last Tuesday’s Democrat state Senate primary.
“She’s also said to have called one of Chang’s campaign volunteers an ‘immigrant,’ saying ‘you don’t belong here’ and ‘I want you out of my country.’”
Mephitic nativism: It’s not just for Republicans anymore. And in fact, it was never for Republicans. It was mostly for racist Democrats like Rep. Scott. But that whole movie Dinesh D’Souza just released about the racist history of the Democratic Party and liberalism is complete bunk, at least as far as the mainstream media is concerned. Right.
Just to make this even more disgusting, one of the people who heard Rep. Scott’s rants involving Asian people was Chang’s husband.
“The various off-color remarks were heard by multiple people connected with Chang, including Chang’s husband, who spoke with Metro Times,” the paper reported.
“Sean Gray says after overhearing Cook disparage Chang outside a precinct on the east side of Detroit, ‘I … asked her not to speak about my wife in that manner.'”
After realizing Chang’s husband was in earshot, Cook apologized and said she didn’t mean … sorry, no, my mistake; why do I keep on getting these things wrong? She told Gray his wife could go back to China, the dirty interloper.
“At that time she said to the voter that ‘these immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us,'” Gray told reporters.
I mean, at least you can give her credit for not going telling him, “Is she from Japan? Vietnam? Korea? Whatever, they’re all the same anyway.” Right?
Oh wait, no, you can’t, because she actually ended up saying worse stuff. “Gray, who is black, says Scott then went on to call him a ‘fool’ for marrying Chang.” Scott also said that it “disgusts her seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.'”
It wasn’t just Chang’s husband, either. Kalaya Long, a volunteer with Voices of Women to Win, says she heard Scott telling another voter, “Thanks for voting for me, you don’t need to vote for that ching-chang.” She would later allegedly tell Chang’s campaign staff, “I called them ching-chongs. That’s what they are!”
“As an African-American woman, I’ve been called the N-word before in my life and you never forget it,” Long said. “Each time it’s shocking and appalling and disgusting, so when you hear someone that’s a minority and a woman using slurs against another minority that’s a woman, it’s just mind boggling and it just felt dirty.”
“These comments are offensive to all Asian-Americans,” Rep. Chang told the Metro Times. “It isn’t about me. It’s about an elected official disrespecting entire populations, whether they be Asian-American, immigrant, or residents of Sen. District 1 or (Cook’s) own current house district.”
At least Cook won’t be getting a promotion. Chang easily won the primary with 49 percent of the vote. Scott, meanwhile, couldn’t muster enough racial animosity to get beyond 11 percent, good for third place.
Now, where’s my point in all of this — other than Democrats can be (and often are) flagrant racists, and that the popular theory that African-Americans can’t be racist is very clearly wrong?
To demonstrate, I’m going to come up with a hypothetical minor Republican politician who serves on the city council in Pocatello, Idaho. We’re going to name that hypothetical minor Republican politician Joey Buttafuoco, because I think the intervening 25 or so years has made us forget just how giggle-worthy the name Joey Buttafuoco is and I think that’s wrong.
Councilman Buttafuoco isn’t a racist. However, he goes to Bob Evans with his family one Sunday morning and receives terrible service. He gives no tip. The waiter happens to be African-American and posts about it online. All of a sudden, Councilman Buttafuoco is one of the most hated men in America. His support for Donald Trump comes under scrutiny and Chris Hayes openly wonders if this is the kind of thing we’re going to see more of now that Donald Trump has ripped the curtain away from America’s ugly racism. Vox releases at least four videos impugning the councilman’s motives. John Oliver devotes 22-and-a-half minutes to the scandal. The original Joey Buttafuoco expresses outrage that Councilman Buttafuoco has besmirched his brand and changes his name to James Gunn.
Rep. Bettie Cook Scott will almost certainly keep her position and you will never hear this woman’s name again after next week. This is in spite of the fact that she affects the entire state of Michigan and not just the people of Pocatello.
At least Rep. Scott apologized, because at this point why the heck not? However, see if you can notice the subtext in the passage I’ve highlighted below, because it adds to the inherent hilarity of this entire dumpster nuclear test.
“I humbly apologize to Representative Chang, her husband, Mr. Gray, and to the broader Asian American community for those disparaging remarks,” Scott (or one of her PR flaks) wrote. “In the divisive age we find ourselves in, I should not contribute further to that divisiveness.“
“I have reached out to Representative Chang to meet with her so that I may apologize to her in person. I pray she and the Asian American community can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
“In the divisive age we find ourselves in, I should not contribute further to that divisiveness.” If you read between the lines in even the most desultory manner, you should be able to parse that pretty easily: The only reason Rep. Bettie Cook Scott is a racist is because Donald Trump and conservatives made her that way! Brilliant!
In closing, I’d like to point out that this is all fun and games until someone like Bettie Cook Scott is contributing unsigned editorials to The New York Times. That someone is Sarah Jeong, who we’ve all mostly forgotten about in relatively short order in spite of the fact that she tweeted, inter alia, that white folk “are only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.”
If Rep. Scott was a bit savvier, she could have just told all of us conservatives getting hyped up about her racism that we didn’t get the “context,” the same way that nobody got the fact that Jeong wasn’t really talking about “white people” when she said racist stuff about “white people.” After all, “ching-chong” is, to paraphrase Vox’s Zack Beauchamp, “the expressive way anti-racists and minorities talk about Asians.”
If only Rep. Scott had a little more foresight, forget about state senator — she could have been Michigan’s next U.S. senator. Instead, she’s just going to have to settle for not having anything happen to her at all. And isn’t that the real tragedy?
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